Two of my longtime friends and I have decided to read The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine (NJHD) together. My friends and I live far apart, but we are able to discuss via email as we go along. And we have chosen one of the number of short books that are included in the Writings. I’m discovering that there’s a lot to be said for this sort of mini book club, so I thought I’d share the concept in case anyone else might find it interesting.
Selling Points of a Mini Book Club:
- Good Friends: You can pick congenial friends, which allows your conversations to deep-dive because you already know each other and don’t have to explain a lot of things. And it’s not a bad way to deepen your friendships, too!
- Easily Organized: Having only a few people makes it much easier to organize. All you have to do to get started is pick a book and figure out how much you want to read each week.
- Keeping It Short: Picking a short work from the Writings feels less daunting if you happen to be pushed for time or undergoing one of the more overwhelming phases of life. And you can choose how much to read each week, so it can be a very short amount if you like. In our case, the way we divided up the numbers has worked out to an average of about 20 pages a week, but you really could do much less than that. We’ll finish the whole project in 9 weeks. (Note: Unless everyone in your group is using the exact same translation, your reading schedule will have to indicate which passage numbers to read each week, not which pages; we discovered that pagination varies by translation.)
- Conversation/Comments: To me, the conversation is probably the best thing about a mini book club. When I read by myself, I only get my own perspective, my own questions, my own applications; it’s so much better to hear thoughts and responses from my friends as well. We are learning from each other, and besides, it’s fun. We chose to communicate via email, but different venues will work best for different people, obviously. With only a few people, the conversation doesn’t get too huge and unwieldy to follow.
- Read Online If You Like: In case you weren’t aware, you can read the Writings online or on your phone using the New Christian Bible Study website or the app. There are multiple translations and languages to pick from. Every reference to a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament and other books of the Writings is hyperlinked so you can take a look if you are curious.
By the way, so far NJHD seems to be a good pick for this purpose. (FYI, sometimes NJHD is published together with other short books under the title Miscellaneous Theological Works.) About 25 big topics are briefly covered with some main points that make me stop and think. At the end of each chapter, there’s a sort of list of more details about the topic being covered, and each detail tells the reader where to find a further explanation in the Arcana Coelestia. Some of the details are pretty intriguing, so I find myself getting sidetracked to take a look. I like the combination of pulling back to look at big issues together with the ability to drill down if I have particular questions.
I hope one or two other women somewhere out there in all our various homes around the world might find that a mini book club could be another way to connect with each other and the Lord’s Word.